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  • Why Research Skills Are Crucial To Write Academic Papers

if(typeof ez_ad_units != 'undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[728,90],'thefutureofthings_com-box-2','ezslot_5',102,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-thefutureofthings_com-box-2-0'); Why Research Skills Are Crucial To Write Academic Papers

If you would like to prepare your academic papers well and in time, it is important to possess advanced research skills. Some people underestimate the necessity of it. That’s why they fail to produce a proper essay or a research paper.

research skills essay writing

How To Accomplish Academic Assignments Successfully

However, for other types of works they have to be advanced. If we talk about the research papers or dissertations, the student must have advanced research skills for sure. This type of skill is not only about the ability to analyze large amounts of information. Such type of skills also includes:

research skills essay writing

Other Skills Necessary For Writing Academic Papers

Research skills are key for academic work, but they are not the only ones needed. The person has to master the number of other soft skills to succeed. Here they are:

research skills essay writing

Kristijan has a bachelor of science degree in Engineering in IT Technologies from the university of Zagreb. He is an SEO expert and web developer who loves all things data. In his spare time he contributes articles that are tech related to TFOT.


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My Research Skills

research skills essay writing

Show More This course has improved my reading, writing and research skills to the point that I now have some skills in the area. Through making me pay close attention to all of the little details that I would normally not notice, my reading skills have improved to allow me to find important information within the text that I would normally not notice. I’ve improved my writing skills by becoming aware of the vocabulary and grammar that I would use within an essay. My research skills have gone from non-existent to knowing something about it. After this course I have become a better reader, and am now able to control better the words I do and do not ignore, which is an ability needed by a reader, “When we read, we notice certain information and ignore …show more content… Throughout this course, writing took more than just writing about what you read. Here I learned to process all the information that needs to be processed and come up with some way to get it out on paper . With writing I have learned that vocabulary and grammar are two very affective sides to it. With grammar I have learned when to end a sentence. Working on grammar for my writing also allowed me to learn, when the time came for me to use punctuation and extend the sentence. In learning of vocabulary in this course I managed to learn of how using a short range of words through the assignment may be a bad thing in making someone fill constrained within the repetitiveness. From this course it has also become clear to me just how far apart reading and writing really are, “Readers must focus their attention and bring certain interests and capacities to their reading experiences, whereas writers have to diffuse their attention to consider all the possible items that could go into the text being written”(14). The way that readers and writers have to process the words reaching their heads is amazing, but conflicting since most writers like reading and vice …show more content… It may seem like writers research their topic during a long time before writing their stories, but that would not be true. “writers do not research a paper and then sit down to write”(21), writers are a messy complex type of people. Reseach papers are complicated and I did not actually like writing one especially after the amount of procrastination I did. The research in this course however, caused me to, if nothing else, learn of the problems in education and standardized tests. With my first research paper having to be a minimum of 7 pages, with at least five sources, at the very least now know how to research well

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research skills essay writing

One of the biggest secrets to writing a good essay is the Boy Scouts’ motto: ‘be prepared’. Preparing for an essay – by conducting effective research – lays the foundations for a brilliant piece of writing, and it’s every bit as important as the actual writing part. Many students skimp on this crucial stage, or sit in the library not really sure where to start; and it shows in the quality of their essays. This just makes it easier for you to get ahead of your peers, and we’re going to show you how. In this article, we take you through what you need to do in order to conduct effective research and use your research time to best effect.

Allow enough time

First and foremost, it’s vital to allow enough time for your research. For this reason, don’t leave your essay until the last minute . If you start writing without having done adequate research, it will almost certainly show in your essay’s lack of quality. The amount of research time needed will vary according to whether you’re at Sixth Form or university, and according to how well you know the topic and what teaching you’ve had on it, but make sure you factor in more time than you think you’ll need. You may come across a concept that takes you longer to understand than you’d expected, so it’s better to allow too much time than too little.

Read the essay question and thoroughly understand it

If you don’t have a thorough understanding of what the essay question is asking you to do, you put yourself at risk of going in the wrong direction with your research. So take the question, read it several times and pull out the key things it’s asking you to do. The instructions in the question are likely to have some bearing on the nature of your research. If the question says “Compare”, for example, this will set you up for a particular kind of research, during which you’ll be looking specifically for points of comparison; if the question asks you to “Discuss”, your research focus may be more on finding different points of view and formulating your own.

Begin with a brainstorm

Start your research time by brainstorming what you already know. Doing this means that you can be clear about exactly what you’re already aware of, and you can identify the gaps in your knowledge so that you don’t end up wasting time by reading books that will tell you what you already know. This gives your research more of a direction and allows you to be more specific in your efforts to find out certain things. It’s also a gentle way of introducing yourself to the task and putting yourself in the right frame of mind for learning about the topic at hand.

Achieve a basic understanding before delving deeper

If the topic is new to you and your brainstorm has yielded few ideas, you’ll need to acquire a basic understanding of the topic before you begin delving deeper into your research. If you don’t, and you start by your research by jumping straight in at the deep end, as it were, you’ll struggle to grasp the topic. This also means that you may end up being too swayed by a certain source, as you haven’t the knowledge to question it properly. You need sufficient background knowledge to be able to take a critical approach to each of the sources you read. So, start from the very beginning. It’s ok to use Wikipedia or other online resources to give you an introduction to a topic, though bear in mind that these can’t be wholly relied upon. If you’ve covered the topic in class already, re-read the notes you made so that you can refresh your mind before you start further investigation.

Working through your reading list

If you’ve been given a reading list to work from, be organised in how you work through each of the items on it. Try to get hold of as many of the books on it as you can before you start, so that you have them all easily to hand, and can refer back to things you’ve read and compare them with other perspectives. Plan the order in which you’re going to work through them and try to allocate a specific amount of time to each of them; this ensures that you allow enough time to do each of them justice and that focus yourself on making the most of your time with each one. It’s a good idea to go for the more general resources before honing in on the finer points mentioned in more specialised literature. Think of an upside-down pyramid and how it starts off wide at the top and becomes gradually narrower; this is the sort of framework you should apply to your research.

Ask a librarian

Library computer databases can be confusing things, and can add an extra layer of stress and complexity to your research if you’re not used to using them. The librarian is there for a reason, so don’t be afraid to go and ask if you’re not sure where to find a particular book on your reading list. If you’re in need of somewhere to start, they should be able to point you in the direction of the relevant section of the library so that you can also browse for books that may yield useful information.

Use the index

If you haven’t been given specific pages to read in the books on your reading list, make use of the index (and/or table of contents) of each book to help you find relevant material. It sounds obvious, but some students don’t think to do this and battle their way through heaps of irrelevant chapters before finding something that will be useful for their essay.

Taking notes

As you work through your reading, take notes as you go along rather than hoping you’ll remember everything you’ve read. Don’t indiscriminately write down everything – only the bits that will be useful in answering the essay question you’ve been set. If you write down too much, you risk writing an essay that’s full of irrelevant material and getting lower grades as a result. Be concise, and summarise arguments in your own words when you make notes (this helps you learn it better, too, because you actually have to think about how best to summarise it). You may want to make use of small index cards to force you to be brief with what you write about each point or topic. We’ve covered effective note-taking extensively in another article, which you can read here . Note-taking is a major part of the research process, so don’t neglect it. Your notes don’t just come in useful in the short-term, for completing your essay, but they should also be helpful when it comes to revision time, so try to keep them organised.

Research every side of the argument

Never rely too heavily on one resource without referring to other possible opinions; it’s bad academic practice. You need to be able to give a balanced argument in an essay, and that means researching a range of perspectives on whatever problem you’re tackling. Keep a note of the different arguments, along with the evidence in support of or against each one, ready to be deployed into an essay structure that works logically through each one. If you see a scholar’s name cropping up again and again in what you read, it’s worth investigating more about them even if you haven’t specifically been told to do so. Context is vital in academia at any level, so influential figures are always worth knowing about.

Keep a dictionary by your side

You could completely misunderstand a point you read if you don’t know what one important word in the sentence means. For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary by your side at all times as you conduct your research. Not only does this help you fully understand what you’re reading, but you also learn new words that you might be able to use in your forthcoming essay or a future one . Growing your vocabulary is never a waste of time!

Start formulating your own opinion

As you work through reading these different points of view, think carefully about what you’ve read and note your own response to different opinions. Get into the habit of questioning sources and make sure you’re not just repeating someone else’s opinion without challenging it. Does an opinion make sense? Does it have plenty of evidence to back it up? What are the counter-arguments, and on balance, which sways you more? Demonstrating your own intelligent thinking will set your essay apart from those of your peers, so think about these things as you conduct your research.

Be careful with web-based research

Although, as we’ve said already, it’s fine to use Wikipedia and other online resources to give you a bit of an introduction to a topic you haven’t covered before, be very careful when using the internet for researching an essay. Don’t take Wikipedia as gospel; don’t forget, anybody can edit it! We wouldn’t advise using the internet as the basis of your essay research – it’s simply not academically rigorous enough, and you don’t know how out of date a particular resource might be. Even if your Sixth Form teachers may not question where you picked up an idea you’ve discussed in your essays, it’s still not a good habit to get into and you’re unlikely to get away with it at a good university. That said, there are still reliable academic resources available via the internet; these can be found in dedicated sites that are essentially online libraries, such as JSTOR. These are likely to be a little too advanced if you’re still in Sixth Form, but you’ll almost certainly come across them once you get to university.

Look out for footnotes

In an academic publication, whether that’s a book or a journal article, footnotes are a great place to look for further ideas for publications that might yield useful information. Plenty can be hidden away in footnotes, and if a writer is disparaging or supporting the ideas of another academic, you could look up the text in question so that you can include their opinion too, and whether or not you agree with them, for extra brownie points.

Don’t save doing all your own references until last

If you’re still in Sixth Form, you might not yet be required to include academic references in your essays, but for the sake of a thorough guide to essay research that will be useful to you in the future, we’re going to include this point anyway (it will definitely come in useful when you get to university, so you may as well start thinking about it now!). As you read through various books and find points you think you’re going to want to make in your essays, make sure you note down where you found these points as you go along (author’s first and last name, the publication title, publisher, publication date and page number). When you get to university you will be expected to identify your sources very precisely, so it’s a good habit to get into. Unfortunately, many students forget to do this and then have a difficult time of going back through their essay adding footnotes and trying to remember where they found a particular point. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and effort if you simply note down your academic references as you go along. If you are including footnotes, don’t forget to add each publication to a main bibliography, to be included at the end of your essay, at the same time.

Putting in the background work required to write a good essay can seem an arduous task at times, but it’s a fundamental step that can’t simply be skipped. The more effort you put in at this stage, the better your essay will be and the easier it will be to write. Use the tips in this article and you’ll be well on your way to an essay that impresses!

To get even more prepared for essay writing you might also want to consider attending an Oxford Summer School .

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Durousseau Electrical Institute

research paper prompts

Term Paper Tips

Research Resources

Effective guidelines: how to write a research paper.

A research paper is perhaps the archetypal piece of academic writing. It is intended to demonstrate all those things that academia embodies. That, of course, is a huge challenge, and this means that a research paper is potentially the most difficult assignment that you can get. But, if you know what a research paper is designed to display in your writing, you can provide a paper that meets those needs. So, what are they?

Ability to Select

The first essential skill when writing a research paper is the process of selecting your topic for discussion. Your ability to highlight an interesting area, and to say why it is interesting, gets your paper off to a flying start! If the topic is difficult to choose you can turn a professional writer or buy a dissertation . So, take time to focus on this.

Ability to Evaluate

Once you have selected a subject to focus on, you now have to demonstrate to your reader that you understand the significance of that subject, let us say, for argument, the impact of clean drinking water on world health. Demonstrate a sophisticated and undogmatic understanding of the case.

Ability to Research

Fundamentally, whatever your subject, your ability to research is the thing that is really being graded. Find the most recent, most reputable, most current thinkers and theories that are in circulation.

Ability to Evidence

The next step is to demonstrate that you can identify what pieces of information are most relevant to your approach. Any field of research has a huge number of scholarly interpretations and approaches, and you need to be able to analyse which perspectives are appropriate to make your argument.

Ability to Draw Conclusions

Simply pointing out similarities between perspectives and evidencing that is not enough. Your research should enable you to draw original conclusions about your given field. Any unique observation, grounded in research, will get you a really high mark!

Ability to Broaden Out

Also, a research paper should not have its remit restricted to the very narrow aspects of the field. Attempt to demonstrate why your research, and your topic, and more widely important to society and the area of study, and between disciplines.

The most important point is the word ‘research’. Demonstrate your ability to focus on a topic, to discover what is essential to it, and to evidence that by means of existing scholarship. Any original thought will enhance this!

© DurousseauElectricalInstitute.com. Term paper writing help for students

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

Structuring your dissertation

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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Research skills How to use information from other writers

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Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

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5.1 Introduction

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to achieve the following:

A Students’ Story

Jaden and Karen are two very different students, both of whom are taking English 100. When asked to write a research-based essay, Jaden copies text directly from internet sources and pastes it into his document as he stays up late and tries to meet the morning deadline for turning in his essay. Karen, on the other hand, has been researching for the past four weeks, finding ideal resources, jotting down her own ideas and significant facts into a Google Doc or in her notebook, always recording exactly what page and paragraph number from which the information came. She was able to use the sources she found it a way that is ideal for college-level writing—to allow them to provide support for her own, original, unique ideas.

Karen gave herself time to gain more knowledge and, therefore, more expertise regarding her topic so that all her studying and gained knowledge would help her become informed for this particular research-based assignment, as well as giving her practice for similar writing assignments that would come her way throughout her college career. Karen had based her writing on her own ideas and then cited others’ appropriately, which she continued to do throughout the semester. Her professor praised Karen for her creativity, thoroughness, and organization, along with her correctly citing her sources.

As Karen continued to grow in confidence, she decided to apply for a position as a writing tutor through her college’s peer mentoring program. Once hired, she would not only earn a paycheck, but she would also gain valuable experience helping others understand the intricacies involved in the research and writing processes while sharing her own stories regarding how to succeed in college.

Jaden, however, was asked by his professor to make an appointment to meet with her. When he arrived at her office, she invited him to take a seat. “Where did you find your content for this report?” she asked.

A bit befuddled, he answered, “Through researching it . . . like with sources I found on the internet and in articles I found about my topic. They’re all listed in my Works Cited.” He reached for the paper and flipped to the back pages. “See. These sources. And I included the intext citations here.” He pointed to another section within the body of his report. “And here.”

His professor knew that Jaden’s report was not only suffering from his failure to commit to the number of hours necessary for such a research-based project but that he had also never adequately learned how to incorporate the words and ideas of experts of others with his own words and ideas in a way that allowed already-existing information to fortify his original writing . . . not replace it.

Such plagiarism—taking the work of others and using it as his own—could involve department chairs and even college deans, the threat of failing a course, or, in extreme cases, suspension. However, particular consideration needed to be given to the fact that Jaden had been writing his research-based essays like this for years, and he had still made it to college. Was he at fault for beginning his report too late and thinking an all-nighter and what was largely a cut-and-paste job could save him? Certainly. But how many instructors before this had just let it slide because he had “included the intext citations”?

One successful habit Karen used was not only reading but also engaging with the source she discovered during the research process. She interacted with the texts by jotting down observations on printouts of articles regarding what the writers’ ideas made her think about. For online sources, she created two columns on a page in her notebook: (1) notes and citations of what the author was saying, and (2) her thoughts, opinions, analysis, or evaluation of each source along with her own, original ideas that came to mind as she was reading.

What Karen did was participate in the existing dialogue about her topic—the conversation that was taking place among the established experts—and contribute by “publishing” (by submitting her essay by the deadline to her professor) her own original ideas as well as her analysis and evaluation of what others said. This practice also resulted in her own synthesis of her previous knowledge with her newly gained knowledge and her continued analytical thinking, innovation, and creation of written knowledge about that topic. She learned that writing allows the individual doing so to enter the conversation, which is what academia, especially at the college level, is all about.

Jaden’s instructor helped him understand how to properly incorporate the ideas of others within his essay through using a body paragraph from his own essay that was largely composed from content that he had obtained from an outside source. She asked Jaden to use two different colored highlighters to identify the phrases that were in his own voice and that were written from his own knowledge and those that came from an outside source. The professor explained the 70/30 rule, which says that 70% of an essay should be in the original voice of the writer and a maximum of 30% can be in the voice of an established expert on the subject, noting that some prefer more of a 60/40 percentage.

The instructor showed Jaden how to follow quoted, paraphrased, or summarized content with standard intext citations within parentheses. She also showed him how to intersperse such important information with sentences he crafted on his own. “State it again in your own words. Explain in your own words how that information relates to the overall focus of your section. Connect that information to more information that will follow,” she explained. “And when you get to the end of your paragraph with more information from an outside source, finish up with your own wise voice.”

“I can do that,” Jaden said. “How come nobody ever showed me how to do that? I’ve been getting away with this kind of research-based writing for years.”

The focus of English 100 is the types of writing students will encounter in college and their careers. Most of the majors students choose require them to conduct extensive research all the way through college. So the students’ job is to learn how to do it so as to demonstrate their researching skills and increasing knowledge.

An introduction to college writing is based on understanding that the primary underlying skill of academic writing at the college level lies within analysis and the ability to synthesize information into one’s own words, citing sources as needed, with the confidence of one who feels part of a given community. The skills needed for good research-based writing involve reading the work of experts, assimilating that information with one’s own brilliant (and evolving) ideas, possibly mirroring some of the writing that suits each individual student, and becoming a clear, creative, and confident writer in his or her own right.

English Composition by Contributing Authors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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